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Let me start with a small "disclaimer" that I actually don't really know what Spotify and libspotify are. I assume them to be some audio-sharing/audio-selling site and a common library created to use it programmatically.

I've just read/posted to one completely offtopic thread about libspotify and noticed that the core of the problem was generated by the library's mantainers' site that asks the readers to post their questions on SO.

While it is well phrased and it refers to "API-related questions" which would probably be OK for SO, people does not seem to understand it. There's quite many "libspotify"-tagged questions that certainly are offtopic.

Some of that questions were answered by people claiming "I work for Spotify", some not. Examples:

My questions/doubts are:

  • Is it OK for them to use SO as "support site" for any kind of problems? Personally, I don't think so. Especially if "they work at Spotify", so probably it's not completely non-profit, so they probably could affort setting up a simple forum. I've even seen this one but I don't see "libspotify" there, so maybe that's different teams/companies/etc. But, I know nothing about that.

  • How should this situation be handled? On one hand, I'd simply downvote/closevote on all the offtopic ones, but some of them are already 'answered'. Does it make any sense to close an 'answered' question? On the other hand, the people are asking questions on SO, because there actually may be no other site for this.

  • if it actually is OK because it was agreed somewhere to let them use SO, is there any list of "projects supported by SO" or something like that?

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Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3966/… –  Flexo Dec 13 '13 at 10:25
    
There can't be a list of projects supported by SO because people just add the link to their website. For the list of products supported by SO where SE wasn't told and where something has gone noticeably wrong please click the outsourcing tag :-). –  ben is uǝq backwards Dec 13 '13 at 17:32
    
You could google "spotify" and find out what it is before posting this question, you know. -1 for poor research effort, just like I would on SO. –  djechlin Dec 13 '13 at 17:36
    
@djechlin: I did. That's why I know at least what I wrote. Before I did, I knew nothing aobut that name. However, even if I knew nothing, it is irrelevant. The point and problem is, that their "support" site points to SO, and I wanted to know what I asked about at the end of my post. In no way this requires me to know precisely what Spotify is. It could be any libFoo related to any Bar website that serves donuts. –  quetzalcoatl Dec 13 '13 at 19:25
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3 Answers 3

It's something that can go really well if it's done correctly. As a Stack Overflow moderator, I reached out to several open source projects that were rapidly outgrowing things like Google Groups and helped them to direct programming questions to Stack Overflow, where a much broader audience could help them, and more importantly find them if they had a similar issue.

Lately, I've been reaching out to organizations that have been directing people to us without much guidance, and helping them update these pages to ensure that folks have a much better experience. I'll do the same in this case.

The main things that any company needs to convey if they're going to do this:

  • Stack Overflow is for programming questions, questions where you can show your code are generally preferred.
  • You should apply (tag), and also a tag correlating to the language you are using
  • Feature requests should go to (link to bug tracker or forum)
  • Bug reports should go to (link to bug tracker)
  • For direct customer support, you should email (person) instead

They should also make it clear that Stack Overflow is a third-party site and isn't directly affiliated with them; this is easily done just by wrapping a bit of context around the link, e.g.

You can ask your programming questions about libgizzard on Stack Overflow a popular community run Q&A site for programmers.

This is becoming a very common task for me, so I'm going to put together a bit of a 'kit' in our help center to assist folks that want to send their developers to Stack Overflow, or cooks to Seasoned Advice or ... (well, you get the point).

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Is it OK for them to use SO as "support site" for any kind of problems?

No, not as "support" site directly, but it's okay to use SO for technical questions. Many projects are referring to SO for technical questions, and it's okay to do so. Quote from the Spotify support site:

Stack Overflow is a collaborative edited question and answer website for developers. Here you can ask Spotify API related questions by using the Spotify tag.

Well, I can see how this ends up as

Stack Overflow ... Spotify question ... click here

in the mind of the average reader.

How should this situation be handled?

Downvote, vote to close as necessary. New users have no excuse, they have been presented with the rules multiple times when asking questions.

But we could contact the Spotify developers and request to clarify and extend the wording on their Support page to make it harder for people to misunderstand it. There still will be people ending up on SO asking off-topic questions.

Does it make any sense to close an 'answered' question?

Absolutely! Being answered does not make the question more appropriate. It's even worse, not closing such questions would create precedence cases which will be used by new users as excuse to create more such questions.

Now answering a question and voting to close it is a gray area and I'm not aware of a consensus on this except "well, as long it is closed afterwards".

On the other hand, the people are asking questions on SO, because there actually may be no other site for this.

That's not our problem.

if it actually is OK because it was agreed somewhere to let them use SO, is there any list of "projects supported by SO" or something like that?

I don't think so, and I don't think there's a need for that.

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The only issue is if the company misleads its users into believing Stack Overflow is the official support channel and that we are some kind of community forum.

We had an egregious case of this attitude at WordPress Answers: WooCommerce dumping its support here in a direct menu link

We contacted the company warning that this had turned into an awful/terrible experience for new users who arrived asking low-quality questions only to have them promptly downvoted and closed. Our request was simple: "no problem driving users to Stack Exchange, as long as they're warned beforehand of our policies regarding what kind of questions are on-topic and the quality we expect of what's posted here".

They didn't join our Meta discussion and all the exchange was through emails and Twitter. At the end, they simply removed all references to SE.

Considering that Spotify staff has active participation at SO, I believe it wouldn'd be difficult to achieve the following: that they add a notice highlighting the importance of being on-topic and about our quality standards.

From their support page:

Stack Overflow is a collaborative edited question and answer website for developers. Here you can ask Spotify API related questions by using the Spotify tag. <------ ADD NOTICE HERE

Follow the link below to ask your Spotify API question. Don’t forget to add the Spotify tag, and any other relevant tags as well, before posting.

All in all, as I undestand it, as long as it's a quality/on-topic Question, no problem. If the tag is generating noticiable bad quality posts, contacting the company and asking for this kind of warning would be the first (and maybe only) step needed.

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